I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Monday, March 17, 2014


When groups march in parades they routinely carry banners indentifying the group.  It is also true that a common motivation for marching in a parade is to provide exposure for a group.

Here is the link to an article about a St Patrick’s Day parade in Boston where the parade organizers forbid LBGT organizations from marching openly.  They were not forbidden from marching, just from marching openly.


While I would agree that a St. Patrick’s Day parade is not the proper venue for publicizing a group’s sexual orientation what should be done when the name of the group does just that?


  1. I would guess that when no one cares about their sexual orientation they will stop wanting to march and publicize their sexual orientation. And by "care" I mean legal/social penalties based on their sexual orientation.

  2. Tom, why do you think a St. Patrick's Day parade is not the proper venue for publicizing a group's sexual orientation? What would be a proper venue for this?

  3. Dan, that is a fair question.

    I believe that the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and Irish culture. To use a St. Patrick’s Day parade (or any themed parade) to further an unrelated agenda would be to highjack the parade. Doing so would not be illegal or immoral just, in my opinion, a misuse of the venue.

    The organizers of the Boston parade must have anticipated the parade being used for purposes other than the intent of the parade organizers, hence the “openly” clause. I think the parade organizers should be allowed to control the theme of the parade they sponsored.

    Perhaps, in the name of tolerance we (the US) give special interest groups too much leeway. In the case of the Boston parade I would guess that the sentiment would have been very different if a group of heterosexuals used the parade to express their sexual orientation.

    1. Just to be fair, I imagine the dynamics would have been different if the group had been a patriotic group that wanted to wave American flags during the St. Patrick's parade. Or perhaps some group called "Grandmas for puppies and apple pie" wanted some publicity by participating in the parade and calling attention their organization. I am not a big parade attender but the few I have been to have been theme-based and every one of them had all kinds of unrelated groups waving their flags and honking their horns, drawing attention to their group or organization. A few years ago I found myself in a small town in Massachusetts on the 4th of July with no particular plans. So my wife and I attended the Independence Day parade and it included a lot of different groups. Even Dr. Ruth was in the back of a convertible just waving her little arms off. I guessed she lived in that area as I doubt that Dr. Ruth is in high demand for 4th of July parades. They weren't hi-jacking the parade, they were just saying "hey! we're Shriners or Joe's Plumbing or Bill's Barbeque or rodeo clowns, or High School Queens of something, etc., and our group is celebrating the 4th of July by being in a 4th of July Parade". If you start excluding everyone that is not theme-related pretty soon you've got a pretty short parade.

      I assume that what you're saying is that enough people would be offended by the nature of the LBGT organization that the controversy would/could hi-jack the true purpose of the parade, which is getting inebriated...I think (I could be mistaken about that). But is that really the LBGT organizations' fault? If their purpose was to disrupt the parade in some way then I would be 100% behind excluding them. But as I read it all they wanted to do was march in the parade and wave their flags...like a lot of other groups.

    2. Do you also consider other groups to misuse the venue and "highjack" the parade? Different types of groups regularly march in parades for other causes not closely linked to a parade's theme, I think. I'm thinking of breast cancer awareness or Boy Scouts or community services, or any number of things really.

      Certainly the organizers of a parade should be allowed to let in whoever they want and keep others out (we don't want the KKK marching in parades), but individuals like the Mayor of Boston are equally free to decide they don't want to support the parade based on its decisions on who to include.

      I think the comparison to a potential outcry towards a heterosexual group is unfair. Heterosexuals have not historically been on the same end of societal ridicule and discrimination.

    3. 1. Dan: Why do we not "want the KKK marching in parades"? Do they not have rights?

      2. Bruce: "just to be fair" shouldn't the group that we consider be reviled by the other side (like the KKK above). What if the intrusive group had wanted to carry those posters of Obama in primitive African regalia?

      3. Generally, I think it is a great and hard question. I think that the word y'all have used that is most appropriate is "highjacking". A parade is very much like a meeting. If A gets a meeting together to talk or do something about Z. Then B has no right to take over that meeting in order to talk or do something about Q - particularly if Q is antithetical to Z.

      Perhaps it would be helpful to imagine a group that opposed the playing of football because of the head injuries to come in and take the field at a ball game.

    4. Bruce, I think you got to the core of the issue with the statement “our group is celebrating the 4th of July by being in a 4th of July Parade". If the group is participating in a 4th of July parade to celebrate Cinco de Mayo I would consider that inappropriate.

    5. Dan, it is not the group that I object to it is the purpose of the group’s participation. If it were my parade any group that wanted to participate in a St. Patrick’s Day parade to celebrate Irish culture would be welcome.

  4. I agree that this is a great and hard question.

    Wayne, of course the KKK has rights. But if the organizers of the parade allowed a KKK group to participate I doubt there would be much push back to a boycott of said parade. The organizers of the Boston St P parade are well within their rights to allow or not allow groups in. If one of their criteria is that a group not display their sexual orientation, though, I would choose not to participate and encourage others not to as well - and not out of a sense of nastiness or militant intolerance. I know some consider this stance to be intolerant.

    Tom, my sense is that very few groups marching in parades participate solely to celebrate Irish culture, or whatever a given theme might be. If the Susan G Komen organization marches in a parade, perhaps they wear green but I suspect that they are much less interested in Irish culture than raising awareness for their cause.

    1. Dan, I agree that most groups participate for exposure rather than just have a parade experience.

      Wayne’s meeting analogy seems appropriate. I am often invited to speak at luncheons on my area of expertise. I always do so for exposure of me and the services I provide. The rules are always the same. I get a glowing introduction stating my credentials for being in front of the group (which I usually get to write) and I may put my company logo at the bottom of each slide. A sales pitch is NEVER allowed.

      According to the article on the Boston case the major issue was the LBGT banner (equivalent to the logo on my slides) which means I should let them have their banner. The difference here is subject matter. I am not yet willing to concede that the middle of a public street is the proper venue for expressing sexual orientation.

  5. The meeting comparison seems very off to me. Whether in a board room, book club or political rally, meetings are very often private, bound by procedure, protocol, decorum and geared toward achieving a specific result. In this context, sure, risk of interruption from things not aligned with that agenda makes sense. Celebration of X is not a meeting topic, it's a spirit and behavior of joviality around a theme, and in the case of parades: mass, public joviality encompassing many forms of expression, volume levels, visibility, and degrees of inebriation. The notion that a subgroup in that wide audience wishing people to know that you can be proudly gay and proudly Irish at the same time might hijack the mass spirit of joviality loosely organized around St. Patrick and the color green is laughable. Could the KKK or a group of Nazi Revivalists be a legitimate distraction? Sure, because those are hateful groups of epic status legitimately at odds with the spirit of joviality and positive celebration.

  6. As the inimitable comedian Tommy Smothers used to say, "Well sure, you can find tricky arguments against anything."

    Seriously, though I should have said "meeting" in the sense of "rally". If subgroup B of Caleb's larger audience is different from the subgroup A that organized the activity and B wants to participate, shouldn't they be required to either 1. get A's permission or 2. do the work of getting their own activity? Why didn't they organize their own activity? Could it be that that takes work?

  7. It doesn't look to me like any of us are arguing that group A doesn't have the right make decisions on who they want in their parade.

    I'll simply say that if the criteria is going to be "we only want groups who are here to celebrate Irish culture" I think it would be a very small parade. And it looks like Tom and I will have to respectfully agree to disagree that a public street is an appropriate place for expression of sexual orientation.

    1. Dan - All good discussions should begin with a clarification of definitions. For me “appropriate” could and does combine the merits of intellectual arguments and the reality of being human. Intellectually I can find no (well perhaps few) objections for the use of a public street. Being human I will admit that my enjoyment of a parade (or other events) would be lessened if I had to explain the meaning of LGBT to a grandchild during the parade. When I watch TV with my granddaughter I have a fear that I will be asked to explain what a “4 hour erection” is and I certainly have nothing against erections. To make my point I suspect that my use of the word “erection” may have caused someone to pause and consider whether it is “appropriate” for this blog and this discussion.

      Setting in the bleachers of a T-ball game a 4 year old girl full of endless energy and the quest for discovery told me that her new brother was in her mother’s belly. She then looked at me and asked “how does he get out?”. Instantly every mother in the stands within earshot was waiting on my response. The child deserved a truthful answer and childbirth is straight forward facts. Yet, with that audience and in that venue an “appropriate” answer was most difficult.

      To end with a little humor, my wife and I spent 5 days in San Francisco earlier this year. Believe me there are some things that should NOT be seen on a public street (or anywhere else).

    2. I like your approach - intellectual arguments along with actually living something.

      I don't suppose I have much to add, other than I'm pretty certain I espouse a non-mainstream view with regards to our big question: is it appropriate in this setting or not? Human sexuality (hetero, homo or otherwise) seems to me like the most normal thing in the world. While I myself fit into a lot of normative categories, I tend towards supporting the groups that publicly display a non-normative feature of their identity in whatever way they see fit. A parade setting seems appropriate to me.

      Again, a good, difficult question.

  8. It appears that I am confused about whether we are talking about rights or our various attitudes toward LGBTs.
    A public street is an appropriate place to express something, most anything.
    But it is not appropriate when that street has already been allotted for another purpose.

    But if we are talking about what we approve of and what we don't, then why not just say that.
    I'm less than enthusiastic about the whole LGBT thing, but I see precious little argument against their rights.
    I'm embarrassed to be confronted with sex of any kind in public.
    This summer I am going to the wedding of a young woman who has been precious in my life for 35 years.

    She will take a wife.